Well I thought it was a big deal when the Pirates traded Eric Hinske this morning but boy was I wrong. Just hours after completing the deal with the Yankees, Neil Huntington and crew completed a deal with the Nationals that is sending Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett to Washington in exchange for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan. Here are some articles where you can read more about the trade:
Well yesterday the Pirates took on the Cubs at PNC Park and were overmatched by pitcher Rich Harden. Zach Duke pitched well enough to earn another victory, going 7 innings and giving up 3 earned runs, but the Pirates just couldn’t do anything against Harden. They did collect 9 hits, but couldn’t score a run on any of them. Their only run came on an Andy LaRoche no-out doubled that was followed by 2 groundouts to the right side and Jack Wilson got the only Pirates RBI. It was a pretty frustrating game to watch, although the Pirates did have some great defensive plays that provided some excitement. Adam LaRoche laid out to knock a ball down in the 2nd that saved 2 runs and ended the threat. Andy LaRoche also ungracefully handled a ball that was absolutely smoked by Derrek Lee, both plays grazed the Sportscenter Top 10.
Erickson looks more promising than Fryer. He’s a 24 year old right handed pitcher who has career numbers of 15 wins, 8 losses, a 3.07 ERA and 8.6 k’s/9. Erickson was taken in the 10th round of the 2006 draft by the Yankees, the same year they drafted Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain. I can’t find much about his pitch arsenal or any of the scouting info, but I’m sure that stuff will pop up around the Pirates blogs as the days moves along.
Eric Fryer’s numbers really don’t impress me. He is a career .286/.333/.344 hitter in 206 games. He plays catcher, outfield, and a little bit of first base. He hits and throws righty and is 23 years old. He was drafted in the 10th round of the 2007 draft. He has a little bit of speed as well with 30 career stolen bases.
The Pirates have won 4 games in a row. After having a terrible 1-5 road trip, the Pirates have played great baseball this homestand. So far they are 4-1 after a series with the Indians and two games with the Royals. The Buccos are now 35-39 and back to a familiar 4 games under .500 and 5 games out of first. We still sit in last place, but we’re only a game and half out of 3rd. Our Pythagorean Wins/Losses is now at 38-36 and we are now an oustanding +7 in run differential. It’s amazing how we can say those two stats and still be 4 games under .500, let’s just hope the baseball gods even out the karma a little bit in the next couple months. I still really believe this team can break .500 and possibly compete in the division. However, there is one thing that could really kill it, and that would be trading Jack Wilson and/or Freddy Sanchez.
Jack is hitting .291 this year (21 points above his career average) with 3 home runs and 24 RBI. He’s been hitting 8 hole all year, so the 24 RBI isn’t bad at all. He’s only played in 54 games due to that finger injury last year. The Pirates don’t need Jack because of his bat though, he’s been with the team for 9 years and he has never been considered an above average hitting shorstop. It’s his defense that makes him valuable. Jack has a career .978 fielding percentage, that number is at .976 this year. He’s committed 6 errors this year, which is 1 more than he had all of last year, but that is still a solid number. The numbers on Jack aren’t amazing, but you really grasp his greatness when you watch the team without him. Jack’s defense is just something we’ve all gotten used to and taken for granted in these 9 years. The guy is the best shortstop in the league at starting and turning double plays. He has made numerous web gems and highlight reel plays in his career, and 2009 has proved no different. It seems he makes a great play every game and is in the top 5 in web gem points on baseball tonight (how is that for a statistic). Jack’s Total Fielding Runs Above Average is 11.8, which means he has saved us 11.8 runs more than the average shortstop would have. That translates into saving us 20.3 runs this year. In comparison, Jimmy Rollins’ highest career TFRAA is 10.2, Jose Reyes has only been over 10 once in his career. There aren’t many shortstops in the league with a better number in that category. And trust me, any guy we call up to replace him will turn Jack’s +11.8 into a negative number, and I can almost guarantee that. Brian Bixler is terrible, he’s not a big league player, so let’s not make him one. Keep Jack Wilson. He’s 33 years old, but he has a couple more seasons of great baseball ahead of him, and this team can definitely compete in that time, and we will need him to do so. Jack has offered to take pay cuts to stay in Pittsburgh, he really wants to be here when he hangs them up.
Freddy has been the Pirates most consistent hitter in the last few years. This year has been much of the same. He is hitting .317, and he is on base to shatter his career highs in power numbers. Freddy has hit 6 homeruns already, and his career high in that category is 11. He also has driven in 31 runs, his career high is 85. He might not drive in 85 but I think it’s safe to say he’ll hit over 11 homers. Freddy’s fielding has greatly improved this year as well, he is rated as one of the top 3 defensive 2nd basemen in the National League. Freddy has a .997 fielding percentage, you can’t do much better than that. He has made 1 error all year. He’s been apart of 56 double plays this year, he and Jack lead the league in DPs. Freddy is pretty much a shoe-in to be the Pirates’ all-star representative this year. Freddy is 32 years old and also has a good 2-4 years of this level baseball in him. Like I said before, I believe this team has the tools to compete in these next two years and they will need Freddy to do it.
These two guys are fan favorites. Everybody loves them, they are really involved in the community and both sponsor many programs to help underprivileged children and things of that like. Kids idolize them and they are really the heart of the Pirates. I understand that the Pirates are building for the future and the answer is in the farm system, but I really believe that these two guys we have to keep. Let’s face it, they both have more value in Pittsburgh than in any other city. We have no replacements for them, at least in the next 2 years. If we were to get rid of these two, we would have absolutely no chance of even hitting .500 this year or next year. The two have been at the top of the league in DPs every year they’ve played together and they are sure fun to watch. I will greatly miss both of these guys if they leave. Please Neil, keep Freddy and Jack! They have earned the right to retire in Pittsburgh, let them do it.
Today Freddy and Jack will team up with the rest of the buccos to try and complete the sweep of the Kansas City Royals. This will be their hardest challenge of the homstand as they face Zack Greinke, who leads the league in ERA at 1.90. He’s 5th in the AL in strikeouts and has 9 wins.
Greinke started out at a god-ish pace but has since slowed down a little bit. In his last 4 starts, he is 1-2 and his ERA has climbed .80 points. He gave up 5, 3, 4, and 1 earned runs respectively. He did nice work in his last start, going 8 strong giving up only 1 earned and striking out 5. The Pirates send Charlie Morton to face him, so it’s gonna take a great performance from him along with the rest of the club to defeat the Royals today. The Royals have only lost 6 times when Greinke pitches this year, and he’s made 15 starts. I think we got this though, the Pirates have been playing great baseball and the Royals just aren’t that good. Let’s Go Bucs!!
Well my 4 days of non-Pirates baseball are now over, but what a 4 days they were. Friday was our 3rd and final full day on our trip before we headed home. We started the day off by checking out of DC and heading to Baltimore. We arrived, found our hotel, then went out to explore the city. Not gonna lie, a lot of the parts of the city were pretty shady and kinda creepy, but all in all it was a nice city. We went to a mall and found a lids to buy some hats. Now, normally I am not the kinda guy to wear the flat billed backwards hat, but I decided I’d go ahead and try to change my style up a little bit. I would love to hear some feedback from my readers to tell me if the hat was working for me or not, I honestly think it was. Here I am
Now you’ll notice I was dawning the Orioles gear there, unlike the night before wear I was in a Nationals shirt. What can I say, I’m a a loyalty-jumper. Honestly I like both teams but don’t really care much about them, but I will always root against the Red Sox (unless they’re playing the Yanks) and what can I say, I love birds.
Anyways, after we found the lids we went back to our hotel and got ready for the game. We headed over to Camden an hour early to walk around and check it out. Unfortunately I didn’t get to tour the upper deck because a couple of my friends really didn’t care too much to see it. I guess not everyone is as passionate about baseball as I am. We took our amazing seats (section 30, homeplate section) and watched the game. Here’s a view from our seats :
The Orioles proceeded to thwack the Nationals 11-1, a beautifully played game by Baltimore. There was a lot to cheer about and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing in the joy with the Baltimore faithful. They have some great fans up there. During the National Anthem, everyone in the park screams “Oh” on the second to last line (“Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave…”), which scared the crap out of me. I was completely not expecting it and it was loud.
At the end of the game there were fireworks put on just over the center field wall. A lot of people stayed (there were over 45,000 people there) and it was a good show. It really didn’t compare to Zambelli fireworks in Pittsburgh, but hey, it got the job done.
Now between the two parks, I’d have to say I enjoyed Camden more. Camden opened in 1992, and Nationals Park opened in 2008, so the Nationals park definitely had more of the new and fancy feel, but that’s not always good in a baseball park. They do a great job of taking care of both parks, they were both very clean and looked very attractive. I was really impressed with Camden though. It had that home-y feeling that really makes you feel comfortable (although the seats weren’t comfortable at all, you are really crammed in there with little leg room), but it also mixes in the newer innovations in ballparks, such as a couple of large LCD screens that keep you updated with pitch counts, scores, stats, around-the-league updates, and much more. The fans were definitely more lively at Baltimore too, although that might’ve been attributed to the fact that more than half the fans in Washington were Red Sox fans. I had a blast at both games, but I’d definitely go back to Baltimore for a game before DC. That said, nothing compares with PNC Park. I was hoping I wouldn’t enjoy one of those parks as much as I enjoy a game in Pittsburgh, and I certainly didn’t. PNC Park is still one of the best ballparks in America.
So we drove back this morning and now I am in Pittsburgh again, back to being a full-time buccos fanatic. I am fully ready to practice that fanaticism as the Pirates come on in 40 minutes ready to host the Royals. The buccos went 3-0 when I was out of town, so I’m hoping I’m not a jinx. Virgil Vasquez had a very impressive (and very surprising) start last night to earn his first big league win, beating Gil Meche. Tonight is Paul Maholm vs. Bruce Chen (Bruce Chen??? Sounds like a karate fighter). I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never heard of Bruce Chen. Hey, he hasn’t pitched since 2007 and has a career 4.63 ERA. He is 35-37 all time and has been all over the league. He’s played for teams such as Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York (Mets), Montreal, Cincinnati, Houston, Boston, Baltimore, and most recently Texas. Dang. Something tells me the Pirates should score some runs tonight. I think I have said that a couple times this year, and I’m pretty sure they haven’t scored more than 3 runs in any of those games. Let’s Go Bucs!
Well I’d have to say day 2 in DC was even better than day 1. Today we woke up, ate some (NOT COMPLIMENTARY) breakfast and then headed out for another day in DC. Our first stop was at the Arlington Cemetery, where John F Kennedy, Howard Taft, Robert Kennedy, and about 300,000 other important American figures were buried. The place was huge. Not much else to say there. After that we went looking for places to find some Nationals gear, and after a lot of driving around, looking, and missing exits, we arrived at the Pentagon City Mall, which was massive. Four huge floors of all kinds of stores. I found 2 player t-shirts in Champs that suited my liking and bought them. I got a gray Zimmerman and a black Markakis for $35, so not a bad price. After that we headed over to the Hard Rock Cafe and ate dinner. We then returned to the hotel to swim a little bit (it was over 80 degrees all day) and then went down to the stadium 2 hours early. We walked around and checked it out. It’s an amazingly beautiful stadium. Everything looks brand new. I was very impressed.
The Nationals were facing John Smoltz’s first start as Red Sock. It was easily 60% Red Sox fans there, and I was dawning my Nationals t-shirt along with my friend Nick, who was also supporting to the Nats. However, my d-o-u-c-h-e-b-a-g friend Clint was wearing a Red Sox jersey. It ended up to be a good thing though, because the Nationals gave the Red Sox fans nothing to cheer about, defeating them 9-3 on the shoulders of a great start from Jordan Zimmermann and big hits from Josh Bard and Willie Harris. It was a great game and great experience all around.
That was a rather short recap of the day, but I don’t really have much time to go into more detail. In other news, the Pirates won again on an Andrew McCutchen walk-off base hit in the 9th that drove in Jack Wilson. Sounded like a great game to be at, gotta love that Andrew McCutchen kid. Anyways, I’ve been raking in the cash in hotel-room poker, so I’m feeling pretty good right now. That’s it, that’s all, I’ll update tomorrow night from BALTIMORE.
Well today 3 of my friends and I left my hometown of Lower Burrell and headed towards Washington DC. The voyage was successful, we reached it in good time. We didn’t attend the Nationals game today, that’s for tomorrow, so today we went sight-seeing. We first stopped at the Smithsonian and spent most of our time there at the Air/Space Museum, that was pretty cool stuff but we soon moved on to the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, those were quite cool to see. I was here once when I was younger but I really don’t remember too much, and it’s better now because I have more of an appreciation for it. Although I am not at all happy with how our government is behaving and where we are inevitably headed, I am still proud to be an American and take great pride in our past and have nothing but good hopes for the future. Anyways, here are a couple pictures I snagged on my new LG enV touch phone (I will have more pictures when I upload them from my camera, after I get back home) :
So after all of that, we headed to our hotel (Capitol Skyline) and checked in. We just kinda chilled in the hotel tonight, they have a sweet outdoor pool and we brought an Xbox. My plan was to go down to the stadium (which is 2 blocks) and scalp some tickets for the game tonight but that didn’t work out, but we had fun just bummin’ around our hotel and the block surrounding. Tomorrow is lookin’ bright, our plans include the National Mall, Arlington Cemetary, the National Zoo (giant pandas!) and then gettin’ to the ballpark early for some BP and a great baseball game that features John Smoltz and Jordan Zimmermann. After that it’s off to Baltimore for a Friday night game at Camden Yards and a capper fireworks show. I’ve taken some nice video footage to so maybe I will post that a couple days after I get home.
In other news, the Pirates defeated the Indians today 9-5, looks like Adam LaRoche went yard again and Andrew McCutchen added 2 more RBIs to hit resume and extended that hitting streak to 10 (??) or so… let’s go bucs! And for the first time… let’s go Nationals!
Well the second I published my “Contention?” post (about how the Pirates were playing great and could actually compete in the division this year) they were doomed to go on a losing streak. The Bucs are 0-4 since I made the post, and they have been playing some sloppy baseball. This team is ranked in the top 3 in the NL in a lot of defensive categories, but that didn’t stop them from making a bunch of errors and mistakes in the field the last 4 games. Thursday and Friday the team was dominated by Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis, but Saturday and Sunday were a lot tougher to take. Saturday the team had a 7-4 lead after an Andrew McCutchen 3-RBI triple, but the bullpen blew the lead and the Pirates lost 9-7. Sunday the team made 3 errors (only one was actually counted as an error) in the field that cost them 3 runs. They lost 5-4. The have been leaving more men on base than ever before in this short stretch and you just don’t win when you do these things.
Well first thing is first, I successfully missed the Friday Pick ‘Em Challenge again, I couldn’t get to a computer. All of 2 people sent their picks in anyway, so I guess we’re just gonna stop the competition all together. haha I knew it wouldn’t last very long.